Thank you Debord, and yes, our modern lives’ are a joke. Every hard earned dollar is one well spent – or is it? According to “The Society of the Spectacle,” our dollars are imagined and over time have become engrained into our society as a way to consume, well, things we’ve learned to need but really don’t. In that process, humankind has bastardized itself into allowing a force called commodity drive our existence. And what’s commodity you ask? It’s everything around you.
The very device to which you read this on, the very principle to which it was created, even the very function of this text is a result of commodity. Commodity or anything you do not need to survive and is of value and desirable, Debord argues degrades our quality of life.
In order to understand Debord’s argument, let’s first define the idea of "the spectacle." Unfortunately, the argument is much less clearer than a “bling’d” out faux-rapper cashing his check at the local supermarket; a true spectacle indeed. Debord believes that currency and the recognition of one's goods is not just a way to live life but is now what we understand as life.
All of the cars we drive, all of the buildings we live in or in sum our entire infrastructure is a direct result of not humanity itself but the result of a false representation of humanity that has been driven by the desire to consume material goods.
“Commodification is not only visible, we no longer see anything else; the world we see us the world if the commodity.” (Debord 42)
Think about advertising. What purpose does it serve? The answer is definite, to sell us goods. A clear and definite relationship exists between consumerism and society and as Debord argues is the idea of spectacle.
“With the achievement of economic abundance, the concentrated result of social labor becomes, subjecting all reality to the appearances that are now that labor’s primary product. Capital is no longer the invisible center governing the production process; as it accumulates, it spreads to the ends of the earth in the form tangible objects. The entire expanse of society is its portrait.” (Debord 50)
What role does technology play in this society? Technology fuels this idea. Our transition from an agrarian to our network society further commodifies humanity by facilitating the transference of goods from source to consumer.
From the comfort of our home, we can order groceries and have them delivered to our door step whereas once we would have to work collectively to gather fruits in order to survive through a winter without shelter. But will all these benefits of modern life does it necessesarily mean we are happier? Probably not.